The USA team celebrates after a goal during the World Cup Qualifying match against Guatemala at LiveStrong Sporting Park on October 16, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas (Courtesy: Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KS (AP) - Clint Dempsey had a pair of goals and assisted on Carlos Bocanegra's equalizer, and the United States rallied to beat Guatemala 3-1 Tuesday night and reached next year's final round of World Cup qualifying.
Facing their first elimination game in qualifying since 2000, the Americans needed merely a draw to advance to the six-team finals in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
After Carlos Ruiz put Guatemala ahead in the fifth minute, Dempsey set up Bocanegra's goal in the 10th minute, then scored in the 18th and 36th.
With 30 international goals, Dempsey tied Brian McBride for third-most in American history.
The U.S. (4-1-1), seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, topped its semifinal group with 13 points. Guatemala, which has never appeared in a World Cup, was eliminated when Dane Richards scored two goals late in the second half in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda.
Guatemala and Jamaica were both 3-2-1 for 10 points apiece, but the Reggae Boyz overtook Guatemala on goal difference, plus-3 to plus-1.
The Associated Press